The federal government has announced an investigation into the nationwide Optus outage which impacted millions of Australians yesterday.

Customers across the nation were left without mobile and internet services on Wednesday as telecommunications provider Optus experienced an outage described as the country’s largest of its kind to date.

After a chaotic response and lax communications from Optus, customers are still waiting to know what caused the 12 to 14-hour drop in service.

The root cause of the fault, which Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland described as being “deep in the core”, is suspected to be related to the company’s “route reflectors”, although Optus has yet to offer an official explanation to the public.

“The suspected root cause of the issue lies with the route reflectors, which are currently handling an excessive number of routes, leading to session shutdown and a complete traffic halt,” Optus told interconnect and wholesale partners via email on Wednesday morning.

Now, Rowland has announced her department will perform a review into the incident.

“The Albanese Government will undertake a post-incident telecommunications review

into the Optus outage that affected millions of Australians yesterday,” she said.

“While we welcome that Optus services were restored over the course of the day, it is

critical the government conducts a process to identify lessons to be learned from

yesterday’s outage.”

While Rowland emphasised “no network is immune” from large-scale outages, she also stressed the need for both industry and governments to take stock following the affair.

“The government hopes the review may also help support major telecommunications

providers to improve post-outage processes,” she said.

As for what the post-incident review of the outage will involve, the minister said she would task her department with developing the terms of reference – that being, the scope of work for a taskforce – while further announcements and next steps are to be made in “due course”.

Rowland also said the telecommunications regulator Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) had already commenced an assessment to investigate Optus’ compliance with certain rules requiring emergency calls can get through.

Talks of customer compensation

The impacts of yesterday’s outage cannot be understated – beyond the simple inconvenience of losing internet connectivity or being unable to make or receive phone calls, the Optus outage impacted businesses, banks, hospitals and even public transport.

In Melbourne, train lines were disrupted by long-running delays with many commuters left struggling to get to work and unable to book rideshares due to a lack of internet or mobile service.

Hospitals across the nation reported disruptions to their phone lines, and businesses which struggled to collect payments for the bulk of the day are still calculating their losses.

“Connectivity is absolutely essential for Australian consumers and businesses, and the

impacts of this outage were particularly concerning,” said a frustrated Rowland.

In a discussion with Channel Nine, Rowland further urged Optus to consider compensation for its customers, stating it would seem “very reasonable” for the telco to look at how it can “attempt to recompense people” following the outage.

"I think Australians are reasonable people, they expect when wrong has been done [to] them by a corporation, that that company will do the right thing," said Rowland.

While Optus has said it will cooperate with the department and communication authority reviews, the company’s chief executive Kelly Bayer Rosmarin has rebuffed calls for compensation after she reportedly told The Daily Telegraph “refunding people for one day is probably less than $2”.

Rosmarin has also faced widespread criticism for not speaking to any media until appearing on the ABC at 10:30am on Wednesday, approximately 6.5 hours after the outage began.

Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones described Optus’ communications as “absolutely subpar”, and said it was “bizarre” Rosmarin wasn’t more readily available during the nationwide outage.

The telecommunications ombudsman has advised businesses to hang on to receipts from the outage period to help demonstrate their loss of earnings.

Greens call for answers

On Wednesday, shortly after the outage took place and before the government announced its official investigation, the Greens moved for an urgent Senate Inquiry into the Optus outage, saying the company had failed to be accountable and transparent in why it failed to provide an essential service.

“Around 10 million Australians rely on Optus for their essential communications and internet needs,” said Greens Spokesperson for Communications Sarah Hanson-Young.

“It’s unacceptable for this prolonged outage to occur without basic accountability from this huge corporation.”

As Optus has still neglected to publicly explain the cause of the outage, Hanson-Young criticised Rosmarin for “phoning it in” and opting to appear in a radio interview rather than fronting the public properly.

“The health, welfare and economic interests of many Australians and businesses have been acutely affected by this outage,” said Hanson-Young.

“The public expect and deserve better and the Greens will push to get the answers that are needed.

“Optus has been so focused on its profits. It must focus on its customers and its ability to deliver a basic service.”